This weekend I was able to create a milestone to call my own. A milestone that fills me entirely with pride and honor. This weekend I became a Godmother.
I still remember that day when I got the news. I got home from work, the buds of the deep red tulips that were just sprouting in our front yard, lifted my spirits. Getting out of the car I gathered my belongings from the backseat, loading my arms with paperwork, groceries and Soeren’s artwork. I just managed to open the mailbox, clamping the letters between my teeth then using various body parts to open or close doors, I made my way into the house.
Dumping everything on the kitchen counter I headed straight for our back yard, the mail left forgotten and scattered on the counter. The first warm rays of spring attracted me more than the bills and letters that day.
Much later that evening, as Soeren was fast asleep, I made myself comfortable on our sofa with a glass of wine and the pile of letters in front of me. Shifting through what looked like the usual bills, my eye caught sight of a familiar handwriting on a beige colored square envelope. I love getting cards and gifts from friends and like a child on Christmas day I ripped open the envelope.
Opening the card, a few pictures fell onto my lap. I smiled “Gosh! Little C. has grown!” I thought and laughed at her cheeky little grin. U’s perfect handwriting informed me of what C. had been up to since the last time I saw her. A lovely photograph of both Soeren and C. reminded me of the late winter afternoon we all spent together when they visited us last in Weimar.
Going back and forth between the pictures and the card I almost missed it. It was written so matter-of-factly between the kinds of foods C. enjoys and her naughtiness at the Kindergarten, that I shook my head and had to re-read the two sentences. But there it was! U. and R. were requesting me to be the Godmother of their one year old daughter.
This was something I would never have thought of in a million years - me a Godmother - but immediately the tears welled up in my eyes and I reached for the phone. Dialing Tom’s number through teary eyes I could hardly wait to tell him. As I heard his voice on the other end all I could do was bawl out “It’s me!”
I am sure you can imagine how stupefied Tom was on the other end, fearing some great disaster. I was however, able to get a grip of myself quickly and tell him the news. It must have touched Tom to some extent too because I thought I heard him gulp before he said “Well that’s good news,” before his rational part clicked back into action and informed me of the responsibilities and what it actually meant.
That same evening I called U. and R., who live near Basel, and told them how emotional they had managed to get me. I was humbled at their unconditional trust and the love that they must feel for me to entrust me with such a massive task. A task, I told them, I would very gladly take on.
As I hung up, my thoughts and feelings were scattered all over the place. That night I went to bed viewing myself in a role I had never even considered.
C. is a whirlwind of energy and with her temperament and quirkiness found a way into our hearts right from the beginning. Soeren adores her and has always treated her as the little sister he would love to have. Watching him patiently show her how to ride the trainer bike this weekend probably tugged at the hearts of all the guests and family members invited to the christening.
In the church, this Saturday, I took my place at the baptismal font next to U. and R. who carried C. in his arms. As the pastor spoke the baptismal motto for C., my mind wandered a bit. I considered my role as a godmother. I am not going to be the once-a-year-card-or-gift godmother and I certainly do not want to be the godmother who says “oh look how much you have grown!” at annual events. I’d like to play an active role in her life. To love her through thick and thin, to guide her and advice her but also scold her when necessary. To make no difference between my own child and to be there for her whenever she needs her godmother. I presume U. and R. already knew that when they asked me.
They also know I will spoil her with my cooking and baking.
Figs are very much in season and the markets are bursting with the soft, ripe fruit. Last week I treated Soeren and myself to a decadent fig indulgence. We made dessert, jam and this delicious crostata using a huge bag of figs I had bought from the market.
I love the pairing of figs with blue cheese, in particular Gorgonzola.
The Food Guide
Gorgonzola is part of the renowned family of blue cheeses, which are cultivated when ambient molds infiltrate curing cheeses.
Gorgonzola originates from the Italian commune of the same name, in the province of Milan. Here, Gorgonzola has been made since the eighth century, when the cheese was hung in large caves to ripen.
The greenish-blue penicillin mould imparts a sharp, spicy flavor and provides an excellent contrast to the rich, creamy cheese. There is no documentation as to when the Penicillin glaucum mold first began colonizing the cheese, but today it has become an integral part of the Gorgonzola.
Cheese makers around the world have attempted to imitate Gorgonzola, but with little success as they are unable to reproduce the balance of molds found in ripening caves for Gorgonzola.
While traditional Gorgonzola is made with raw cow's milk, one can also find pasteurized and sheep's milk versions of the cheese.
At about four weeks the cheeses are pierced with thick needles to encourage the spread of the mould. Gorgonzola ripens in three to six months. The cheese is usually wrapped in foil to keep it moist. Flavor-wise the Gorgonzola ranges from mild to sharp, depending on the age.
Prime Gorgonzola specimens are creamy yellow in color, richly veined with blue green mold. A truly aged Gorgonzola will be deeply streaked, with the mold distributed from the center of the cheese. Younger Gorgonzola is referred to as Gorgonzola dolce and it is milder in flavor, lighter in color and creamier in texture. Gorgonzola Piccante or Mountain Gorgonzola is the name given to Gorgonzola which is allowed to age six months or more. This cheese is more flaky and crumbly in texture and has deep intensive flavor. This cheese tends to be spicy adding a characteristic bite to salads and other dishes in need of extra zest.
Shopping and Selecting Gorgonzola
When shopping for Gorgonzola look for paler cheese if you want a sweet more, subtle flavored Gorgonzola, and darker versions if you want a cheese with more bite. Make sure that Gorgonzola is not brown in appearance. This is an indication that the cheese has gone bad.
Gorgonzola cheese can last for a few weeks when properly wrapped (keep an eye on expiration date). Remove the outer crust and wrap in aluminum foil. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Once the original foil wrap is opened, make sure to re-wrap the cheese and immediately return it to the refrigerator. Although Gorgonzola cheese can be frozen, its texture will change slightly. When ready to use, defrost Gorgonzola in the refrigerator.
I used a subtle, mild and young organic Gorgonzola cheese for the crostata, pairing it with fresh, juicy and ripe figs, which are drizzled lightly in honey. The crust is flaky and crumbly, perfect with the creamy Gorgonzola cheese. After a gentle bake in the oven and the flavors are beautifully combined, slices of prosciutto round off the crostata into a delectable meal.
Honey Figs Gorgonzola and Prosciutto Crostata
Printable version of recipe here
For the crostata pastryFor crostata filling
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, cubed
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Pinch of salt
40 ml cold water
5-6 figs, cut into quarters or eighths depending on their size
2-3 tablespoons clear honey, I used Acai honey
A few springs of thyme
- In a food processor add flour, butter, sugar and salt and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and water and process until the dough just comes together into a smooth ball of dough.
- Remove from processor onto a lightly floured surface and give it a few gentle kneads to bring the dough together. Use the dough immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use. If you like the pastry can also be stored in the freezer for up to a month and used at a later date.
- Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Divide the pastry into two portions and on a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into a circle of slightly larger than 24cm wide and about 4mm thick. You can use a plate or a 24cm round cookie cutter to cut out a neat and exact circle, which will give you neater edges.
- Slide the pastry onto the baking tray and chill for 20 minutes.
- Break off pieces of the Gorgonzola and place on crust, leaving a border about 3cm from the edge. Lay the fig wedges on the Gorgonzola, scatter with thyme, black pepper and drizzle with honey.
- Fold the edges up over the filling and pleat as you go along. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the crostata pastry is golden in color. Once out of the oven arrange slices of the prosciutto on top of each crostata and serve immediately with a large salad.
Powerful and delicious flavors, bite for bite - this crostata is the elegant answer to a quick meal and a treat for cheese lovers like Soeren and myself. Yes, Soeren loves his cheese - the stinkier the better, so it was not surprising to see him tuck into this with great gusto. I also made a few small tarts and stored them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for Tom. Fresh out of the oven, the crostata is pure pleasure with warm melted cheese, the delicious sweet figs and the slight sweet note from the honey. The flaky pastry brings it all magnificently together.
Thanks to everyone for all your wonderful and encouraging comments, emails and tweets regarding my portfolio, which I unveiled last week. Meeta K. Wolff Photography is another child I hope to nourish and watch grow into hopefully something healthy and wonderful. I’m going to be working hard on it.
You might like these tarts and pizzas from WFLH:
|Caramelized Fennel, Radicchio, Pear and Goat cheese Pizza||Pumpkin & Feta Tart||Pumpkin Polenta Gratin|
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